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The Political Economy of ProgressJohn Stuart Mill and Modern Radicalism$
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Joseph Persky

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190460631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460631.001.0001

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Poverty, the Poor Laws, and the Family

Poverty, the Poor Laws, and the Family

(p.109) Chapter 7 Poverty, the Poor Laws, and the Family
The Political Economy of Progress

Joseph Persky

Oxford University Press

A general policy consensus among classical economists sought Poor Law reform, which would guarantee recipients a state of “less eligibility”—i.e., a state no more attractive than the poorest paid worker. Like most of his fellow economists in the 1830s, Mill supported workhouses because they helped to limit population growth. But over time he took a far more radical position, endorsing the notion of droit au travail (right to work) that had emerged from the French Revolution of 1848. Where Senior and other classical economists saw this idea as “an economic enormity,” Mill saw in it a link to his broadening proposals for cooperative production.

Keywords:   Poor Laws, less eligibility, workhouses, droit au travail, Nassau Senior

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